Release type: Transcript

Date:

Doorstop – Riviera Australia, Coomera, Gold Coast

Ministers:

The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business
The Hon Angie Bell MP
Member for Moncrieff

Topics: Jobs in the marine engineering sector; Riviera apprenticeships

E&OE-------------------------------------

MINISTER ROBERT:

Look, it’s wonderful to be here with my colleague, Angie Bell, Member for Moncrieff, here at Riviera Marine, a world class marine-engineering facility that is producing world-class boats. A real Gold Coast success story. And here to announce $716 million program, the Completing the Apprenticeship Commencement Program. When the pandemic started, to ensure that we had a strong track record and a strong pipeline of apprentices, the Federal Government put the Supporting the Apprenticeships scheme in place. And then of course, a $3.9 billion scheme, the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement Program. To ensure that all of those apprentices complete, today’s announcement is Completing the Apprenticeship Commencements, which is to provide on top of the $3.9 billion, a further $716 million. So that will provide a wage subsidy of 10 per cent of the cost of the wage of the apprenticeship in the second year, and five per cent in the third year. And that of course builds on the 50 per cent wage subsidy for the first year. Here at Riviera, 41 apprentices started at the beginning of this year, supported by the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement Program. Last year, 39 apprentices. So that’s 80 apprentices of the 91 apprentices right here. Apprentices like Nick and Claudia started under the Government’s Boosting the Apprenticeship Commencement Program. 91 apprentices here, 80 of them supported by the Federal Government’s program. And this program has seen a 141 per cent increase in apprenticeship commencements to ensure we can come out of the pandemic strongly. Whilst other countries of the world were losing apprentices and dropping trainees, the Federal Government was investing in it, and this is another step in ensuring we come out strongly. There is no better friend of apprentices and the businesses that employ them than the Morrison Government.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:

Any questions for the Minister now or? 

QUESTION:

Yeah, I mean, what does this offer the apprentices? So is this about employment or is it about ongoing work in the future? I mean, what is it all about, this program? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

In the VET ecosystem, the Federal Government takes responsibility for the incentives for the employer, and the state government for the employee. So we've got 350,000 apprentices in training right now. The vast bulk of them, 270,000, that have commenced during the pandemic because of the Federal Government's assistance. We want those apprentices to complete. Apprenticeship completion rates are still too low. So the incentive being announced today, $716 million, is designed to assist and encourage employers to stay connected with their employees with their apprentices, and get those apprentices that have started, get them completed. $3.9 billion worth of taxpayers’ money has gone to getting apprentices started. This is designed to ensure they complete. 

QUESTION:

80 is an incredible number here. How many businesses across Queensland have apprentices through the state? Do you know that figure?

MINISTER ROBERT:

There's 72,000 businesses across the country that have actually taken up apprentices, taken up 270,000 apprentices once, or since the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement Program has started. You can do the numbers in terms of what it looks like in Queensland. Queensland has 22 per cent of the nation's apprentices; same as Victoria. Only New South Wales at 32 per cent, is bigger. So Queensland is really lifting itself strongly when it comes to apprenticeships, and especially in manufacturing. 

QUESTION:

How do you see Riviera positioned in this role, recruiting apprentices?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well, 91 apprentices here, of course, working in close proximity with registered training organisations on site to ensure there is real training right here. You have got Nick, who’s doing electrical apprenticeship, and Claudia, I think, is upholstery that she's working on, so real skills. And of course, we want businesses to come out strongly. The national plan sets our opening up at 80 per cent. That's what the national plan shows. And our numbers across vaccinations show that we'll be hitting that 80 per cent from October through to November, different states at different times. And when that happens, the Premiers have signed up to the national plan. It's our national hope. It is our contract with the Australian people and we want businesses to springboard strongly through. So this allows businesses the confidence to continue to keep their apprentices on and to springboard strongly. And I'm looking forward to Riviera getting to Fort Lauderdale Boat Show next year, showcasing their wares. I'm seeing record sales of Riviera product across the world as a high quality product. We want to see more of it. 

QUESTION:

I’ve got a question for [indistinct] now about…

MINISTER ROBERT:

[Interrupts] We might do that after. We might let Angie and the apprentices say a couple of words, if that's all right. Angie.

ANGIE BELL:

Thank you, Minister.

MINISTER ROBERT:

[Indistinct]

ANGIE BELL:

Thanks, Nick, Claudia, and Minister. Great to be here at Riviera. What does this mean for the central Gold Coast and the Gold Coast more generally? This means that more employers will be able to keep on their apprentices in year two and year three of their apprenticeships. And for those businesses on the central Gold Coast in Moncrief in particular, those businesses like Southport Printing are able to do that. And it is a great help. There are over 700 apprentices in Moncrieff alone on the central Gold Coast who this will benefit. So this is fantastic news. And thank you very much, Minister, for having us here today and for this fantastic announcement for our local businesses.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Now we might get Claudia and Nick in so the journalists can ask them some questions. Angie, to the other side. Nice and close. 

QUESTION:

Claudia, tell me a little bit about how you got here —like, so tell me a little bit about your story and how you're enjoying it as an apprentice?
 
CLAUDIA:

So my family have always held a very high reputation with Riviera and I put my resume through. And started work experience, which I absolutely loved here, and I'm really grateful that they took me on as an apprentice, because I just love it here. 

QUESTION:

How has it helped you, I guess, with career direction? Do you now want a job in the industry? I mean, what's the future look like for you? 

CLAUDIA:

Well, here, like with so many apprentices - sorry. So many different roles that you can be as an apprentice, you're not just closed off to your apprenticeship. If maybe after that you find interest in maybe electrical or something, there's always that pathway in Riviera to take it.

QUESTION:

And Nick, yourself, can you tell me a little bit about what you do here?

NICK:

I do the first stage of electrical here, and it basically involves putting up the cable tray and running all the wires to where they need to go before it joins, and then we put in what we need to put in and then it gets sent out to fit out to where the cabinet makers put in all the cabinets, and they fit off all the final, like, TVs, and stuff like that.

MINISTER ROBERT:

And Nick, you're unique. You started a school-based apprenticeship, didn't you?

NICK:

Yeah, I did. Yeah.

MINISTER ROBERT:

So what does that look like?

NICK:

That was really good, actually. One day a week every Wednesday, and I came out of year 11 doing trade college every Wednesday for my certificate to electrical. So it was easy to kind of have that day off, come here and work, and it's very enjoyable.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Nick and Claudia are great examples of how the Federal Government is backing in apprenticeships. This is exactly what we want, young Australians coming out of school, putting their resumes forward, getting work.

QUESTION:

Nick, how far along are you, and are you going to complete it? What does your future look like in this industry?

NICK:

Well, since it's such a worldwide company, I've looked at trying to maybe work overseas once I finish my apprenticeship, but currently I'd say I think I'm second year in November-ish, so next month, and I'm not sure how much the school-based [indistinct] towards my actual apprenticeship, but from what I know, I’m second year.

QUESTION;

Do you hope to have one of these yourself one day?

NICK:

Of course. Who doesn’t, really?

[Laughs]

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:

Alright, thank you.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Thanks team, we’ll let you go.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:

Do you want to jump in?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:

Yeah, yeah. Sorry, just have Adam from Riviera talk about training.

MINISTER ROBERT:

[Indistinct] Adam.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:

If you just want to introduce yourself and what Riviera does for apprentices.

ADAM HOULAHAN:

My name's Adam Houlahan. I’m the Safety, Training and Recruitment Manager at Rivieria. Next year, we'll be taking on another 55 apprentices across nine different trades that we will be training to become our master craftsmen of tomorrow. We are — starting an apprenticeship with Riviera is all about starting their career with Riviera and we've retained over 90 per cent of the apprentices that have graduated with us over the past five years. It's been an excellent result for us.

QUESTION:

How did that make a difference to you?

ADAM HOULAHAN:

Well, the apprentices here make a difference by taking the knowledge from the master craftsmen that are — people that have been with us 20, 30 years, training people and passing on the knowledge of how we build our boats.

QUESTION:

Do some of them stay?

ADAM HOULAHAN:

Almost all of them stay. Almost all of them stay. Over 90 per cent here are in continuing careers on site. It's a great success story.

QUESTION:

Obviously COVID’s been a different time for everyone, but it seems like this industry is thriving. Can you speak to that? You know, what it's been like for you guys dealing with the pandemic?

ADAM HOULAHAN:

Correct. You know, it's presented for us the — sorry, let me go again. So COVID, of course, presented its challenges. However, you know, it's put us now into the strongest forward order position that we've had in the company in its 41-year history that we've been making our world-class luxury motor yachts.

QUESTION:

And you guys said- you are sending a few over to the US for the international motorboat show there. Exciting for you guys to showcase the Australia partnership?

ADAM HOULAHAN:

Absolutely. We are so proud of being a premium luxury export product. 60 per cent of what we build is going all around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:

Cool. And we will do the camera. Thank you so much for that.

MINISTER ROBERT:

[Talks over] 78 foot going [indistinct]?

ADAM HOULAHAN:

[Talks over] 78 foot, next year.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Outstanding number, is that.

QUESTION:

[Indistinct] Just from Canberra. Just wondering when the Federal Government will turn off the financial support to those in lockdown in New South Wales, Victoria, ACT? Will that be when lockdowns end at 70 per cent vaccinated or do you have a time or a date in mind?

MINISTER ROBERT:

As you know, the government's policy remains, if the Chief Medical Officer - Commonwealth has articulated a hotspot, that's when the COVID disaster payments go into place for individuals, and of course, it’s a 50/50 arrangement for every state and territory, depending upon what support is available for business. And we're doing that with the states and territories. So we'll continue to work with the states and territories in that respect as we move towards the national plan. The key is the national plan. At 80 per cent, we're moving into phase C and that becomes a key timing for us to look at a whole range of areas with the states and territories.

QUESTION:

I've got a few questions. Bridget McKenzie says supporting net zero emissions by 2050 is the worst kind of vacuousness over values. What do you think about that?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Oh, I’ll leave Bridget to speak for herself, but the government's position on this is well known. The government's policy remains that we want to get to net zero as soon as possible and preferably by 2050, but as soon as possible. It's not a question of if, it's a question of how. And of course, we've given that guarantee that we'll get to net zero through approaches to technology, not through taxes.

QUESTION:

Are you one of the MPs she says who backs net zero because you're more worried about being cool than the consequences?

MINISTER ROBERT:

I'm a member of the Cabinet that has backed the policy position that says it's not about if, it's about how, but it's about we want to get to net zero as quickly as possible, as soon as possible and preferably by 2050. But we want to do it without putting an impost upon the regions. And of course, the Gold Coast is one of the biggest regions. We are not going to make a decision that puts an unnecessary impost on companies like Riviera and makes it more difficult for them to manufacture and export, especially when 60 per cent of product is leaving here for overseas. We want a technology-driven approach towards net zero. We don't want a taxation-based approach.

QUESTION:

Are you prepared to stand up to your Queensland colleagues who are railing against this?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Great thing about politics is everyone's got an opinion, including in the gallery, which is a great thing, and we should. Great freedom of speech is an important element of what we do in our body politic. But it's important to understand that we also have a disciplined policy process where we decide upon the directions of the policies we take to the Australian people. We've always been very open to the Australian people and our policy remains unchanged. We will get to net zero as quickly as possible. That's the government's position.

Thanks very much.